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NASA Plans Moon Base



Arts & Humanities
--Language Arts
--Space Science
Social Studies
--Current Events


Grades 2-up

News Content

NASA is making plans to build a permanent base on the moon by 2025.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, ask students to agree or disagree with each of the statements below. This will set a purpose for reading; as they read, they will confirm their assumptions or learn something new.

  • People might be living on the moon in fewer than 20 years.
  • The moon could be used as a launching pad for rockets that will explore other planets.
  • The moons north and south poles get sunlight most of the time.
  • The first "home base" on the moon might be an inflatable one.

    News Words

    Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: officials, project (noun), permanently, poles, minerals, and vehicles. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • It took a long time to plan and make my _____ for the social studies fair. (project)
  • That glue should _____ hold together the parts of the model plane. (permanently)
  • The road crew parked its construction _____ along the road that leads to the highway. (vehicles)
  • Earths _____ are located in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. (poles)
  • Olympic figure skating _____ decided to give out two gold medals this year. (officials)
  • The farmland was rich in the nutrients and _____ needed to grow corn. (minerals)

    Read the News

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

  • Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

  • Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

  • Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

  • Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.
  • Click for a printable version of this weeks news story NASA Plans Moon Base.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • Back in the 1970s, the Apollo space program made repeated trips to the moon. A new program recently unveiled by NASA officials would replace a plan of repeated trips with a more efficient plan: building a permanent outpost on the moon. Scientists believe astronauts could use the moon's natural resources to maintain the outpost, and the base could be used as the launch pad for journeys to Mars.
  • Before manned missions to the moon start up again, NASA will launch a series of robotic missions. The first one is planned for 2008. That missions orbiter will create high-resolution maps that NASA hopes will provide information about good landing sites and sites where water ice and other resources might be found.
  • This year, India will launch its first mission to the moon. A radar instrument aboard that flight will be used to determine probable locations of water ice.
  • It is generally thought that Earths first outpost on the moon will be set up on the rim of a crater near one of the moon's poles. Such an area would be in sunlight, and it would be in the line-of-sight of Earth all year round. Sunlit areas of the moon would still be very cold (50 degrees below zero), but that is resort-like compared to temperatures near the moons equator, which scientists say fluctuate between 200 degrees above zero and 300 degrees below.
  • The tilt of Earth causes us to have seasons. Because Earth tilts, its polar regions are in almost total darkness for parts of the year. Unlike Earth, the Moon's axis is almost perfectly upright, so its poles get about the same amount of sunlight all year long.
  • Water ice might be found at locations near the moons poles. When water ice is separated into hydrogen and oxygen, it could be used to create breathable air inside a moon base or to make rocket fuel for a trip to Mars.
  • The moons soil is another potential source of oxygen. Scientists know from early samples of moon soil that it contains minerals rich in oxygen. "It doesn't take a lot of soil to make the oxygen we need [to support a base on the moon]," said Larry Clark, senior manager for Lockheed Martin's spacecraft technology development laboratory. He thinks small robo-tractors could excavate surface soil to create oxygen to keep astronauts alive. The top 2 inches of soil from an area half the size of a basketball court could yield enough oxygen to keep four astronauts alive for 75 days, Clark told MSNBC.
  • In preparation for constructing a moon base, NASA and its corporate partners are building habitat prototypes. Those include inflatable habitats that would be easy to transport. One inflatable habitat will be tested soon by scientists in Antarctica. The habitat will have monitors and sensors built into it so its creators can track how it does.
  • Scientists know from the earlier Apollo flights that moon dust has abrasive qualities. The dust even worked through the metallic protection on astronauts gloves. Moon base inhabitants will need to be protected from health problems that could be caused by the dust in much the same way mine and asbestos workers need to be protected on Earth.
  • Some scientists believe landing pads and roads can be created by heating up the moons soil. Heating the soil will turn it into a concrete-like crust, they say.

    Comprehension Check

    Revisit the Anticipation Guide at the top of this lesson; ask students to respond again to the statements in it. Compare their responses to those given before they read.

  • People might be living on the moon in fewer than 20 years. (true)
  • The moon could be used as a launching pad for rockets that will explore other planets. (true)
  • The moons north and south poles get sunlight most of the time. (true)
  • The first "home base" on the moon might be an inflatable one. (true)

    Recalling Detail
    You might follow-up that activity by asking some of these questions:

  • When do NASA officials plan to start building a base on the moon? (in the year 2020)
  • Whereabouts on the moon is the new base likely to be built? (near one of its two poles)
  • Why do the moons poles seem to be the best place for a base? (They get sunlight all year long. Sunlight can be used to create solar energy to power the moon base. Also, water and other minerals are likely to be found near the poles.)
  • When was the last time humans explored the moon? (in 1972)

    Think About the News
    Discuss the Think About the News questions that appear on the students news page. You might use the think-pair-share strategy with students to discuss those questions. If you use this strategy

  • First, arrange students into pairs to discuss and list responses to one or both of the questions.
  • Then merge two pairs of students together to create groups of four students. Have them discuss and add to the ideas they generated in their pairs.
  • Next, merge two groups of four students to form groups of eight students. Have students create a new combined list of ideas.
  • Finally, bring all students together for a class discussion about the potential for life on the moon.

    Follow-Up Activities

    Dictionary skills. Three of this weeks News Words begin with the letter p. Write this list of p words on a board or chart.

    project, permanently, poles, physical, petunia, piano, planet, poetry, praise, pizza, pleasant, photograph
    Have students alphabetize the list of words. (The correct order is permanently, petunia, photography, physical, piano, pizza, planet, pleasant, poetry, poles, praise, project.) Then write on the board or chart the following pairs of dictionary guide words:
    perfect - pinch
    pine - pony
    ponytail - proof
    Challenge students to identify the words in the list that will appear on each dictionary page. The correct answers appear below:
  • perfect - pinch -- permanently, petunia, photography, physical, piano
  • pine - pony -- pizza, planet, pleasant, poetry, poles
  • ponytail - proof -- praise, project

    Listening comprehension. In 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to step foot on the moon. Read aloud to students the brief biography of Neil Armstrong. Then ask some of the following questions to check students listening comprehension:

  • On what date was Neil Armstrong born? (August 5, 1930)
  • How old was Armstrong when he first flew in a plane? (six years old)
  • Why did Armstrong build a wind tunnel in his parents basement? (to test the model airplanes he built)
  • How old was Armstrong when he took his first flying lesson? (15 years old)
  • In which war did Armstrong serve as a Navy pilot? (the Korean War)
  • How long did it take the Apollo 11 astronauts to reach the moon? (four days)
  • What now-famous words did Armstrong speak as he first stepped foot on the moon? (" That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.")
  • What did Armstrong and his fellow astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, do while on the moon? (They performed scientific experiments, collected moon rocks, and took photographs.)
  • What did Armstrong and Aldrin leave behind on the moon? (an American flag, a television camera, and a special plaque) Science. Share with students the animation and slideshow that explains how astronauts might build a base on the moon.


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    GRADES K - 4
    NS.K-4.4 Earth and Space Science
    NS.K-4.5 Science and Technology
    NS.K-4.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
    NS.K-4.7 History and Nature of Science
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NS.5-8.4 Earth and Space Science
    NS.5-8.5 Science and Technology
    NS.5-8.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
    NS.5-8.7 History and Nature of Science
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NS.9-12.4 Earth and Space Science
    NS.9-12.5 Science and Technology
    NS.9-12.6 Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
    NS.9-12.7 History and Nature of Science

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2007 Education World